Moving around the Gulf Coast

Right now we’re living in Fairhope, AL.  It’s a nice little town.  Lots of people retire here.  I’ll talk about it later.  But first I have to give an update on my bird watching.  We live in a wooded community that looks like totally old forest with houses nestled among the trees.  I think it’s a bird sanctuary, too.  I’ve seen a ton of those signs.  Ok…its not on the white, sandy beaches of FL but it’s nice for now. 

I get to look for a different set of birds living here.  Shore birds are a shore mile or two away through the woods.  I saw a laughing gull and a snowy egret fly over my house today, so I’m ok with living in the woods for now.

Our backyard is a bunny paradise.  Dixie, my black lab, has done well to restrain herself but not so with the squirrels.  She’s still trying to climb trees after those critters.  I miss the tail-less squirrel that lived in the canopy area of Siesta Key near my house.  I wonder how it’s doing.

Birds. Well, here’s what I’ve seen just in the back yard: a cardinal pair, a towhee pair, a black capped chickadee, brown thrushes galore, red-bellied woodpecker, mockingbird, red-headed woodpecker (I’ve missed seeing them), blue jays, tufted-titmouse, house finch pair.  I’m not good at identifying warblers by sound but I recognized one.  It’s hard to tell a mockingbird (sometimes) from a warbler.  You have to keep listening and if it doesn’t change it’s tune, its not the mockingbird.  I’ll have to keep listening to the warbler and write about it later.   Tonight as I walked the dog in front of the house (heavy woods across the street) I heard for the first time a chuck-will’s-widow.  There were two of them.  I’d never heard one before and shared the sound with my son, Travis (who I think is pretty interested in birds).  I logged onto www.enature.com/birding/audio.asp   and listened to sounds of noctural birds and found this identical match.  How cool!  I just wish I could see one but the information I read said they are hard to spot.  I’ve been owling and, while it took a while to locate the eastern screetch owl, I was able to find him.  Maybe if this CWW is a resident, I can try to locate it. 

The Fairhope waterfront park and pier are a great place to birdwatch.  Once again I live along a birding trail, this time it’s the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail.  We’ve been there a few times in the past week.  The city has put up purple martin apartments along the waterfront. 101_3118 There are a ton of these birds flying around this whole side of the Mobile Bay.  I don’t know about the other side but I’ll find out sooner or later.  Meanwhile, I’ve seen them along the bay front from Daphne (at a friend’s house) down to Point Clear (at another friend’s house).  The sign in the picture basically says that purple martins pass through this area twice a year.  They winter in South America and come north around the first of the year.  They arrive here late-January/early-February.  Since they eat several thousand tons of flying insects they are helpful to the area:  less bugs to ruin the local agriculture, less pesticide to spray in the community, etc.  They nest late-March to early-July and head south by the end of August.  The City of Fairhope put up the purple martin apartments in February 2001. 

101_3123They are such cool birds.  I really like their color and shape when they’re flying.  Plus they’re great bug eaters.   Come visit; it’s cool to see.  So, add purple martins to the Alabama list, plus a great blue heron, brown pelican, cattle egrets.

Fairhope will be a good stop for a while.

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